Family Violence & Homicide

A Crime of Passion or Pre-Meditated Murder?

On 6 October 2016, Stuart Gallear called emergency services and told them he had just stabbed his wife.  “I just lost it” he said.  When they arrived at the Gallear home in Hindley near Wigan, Greater Manchester, they found 42-year-old Mandy Gallear on the floor of the kitchen, unconscious and bleeding heavily from three stab wounds to her chest. Stuart Gallear was crouched over her body, trying to stem the bleeding and administer CPR. Once his wife was in the ambulance and on her way to hospital, 51-year-old Stuart Gallear told police he had stabbed his wife after he discovered she was having an affair with his friend and wanted to end their marriage.

Mandy Gallear died from her wounds soon after arriving at hospital, never regaining consciousness to be able to tell police what had happened that afternoon.  Stuart Gallear was arrested and charged with murder and he is currently on trial at Manchester Crown Court, facing up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Pleading guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder his defence, it appears, lies on the argument that his attack on his wife was a spontaneous act of violence in that moment and not an act that had been planned beforehand. In other words it was not a pre-meditated act and Mr Gallear did not intend to kill his wife.

“The next thing you know I’m lunging at her, I grabbed her by the throat and the drawer was open. I grabbed the knife, pushed her back towards the sink and just stabbed her two, three times.”

Mandy and Stuart Gallear were married for 18 years with two teenage daughters. What happened to this couple which led to a brutal attack resulting in the death of a wife and mother and a murder charge against a husband and father?
In court this week the jury have heard the history of the Gallear’s relationship. The Manchester Evening News reports how the couple emigrated to Canada in 2009, a lifelong dream of Stuart Gallear, only for their plans to unravel when the recession hit resulting in their return to the UK within months.

Stuart Gallear found the collapse of his dream difficult and began drinking heavily causing strain on the marriage and for his wife, friends have reported, to highlight her unhappiness in the relationship.  In 2014 Stuart Gallear made a romantic pass at his sister-in-law, a ‘stupid mistake’ he says but one which caused a further rift in his marriage to Mandy.

In 2015, Mandy Gallear began an affair with a local joiner, Mark Prescott, an acquaintance of Stuart Gallear and a man who was himself married.  It is a relationship which continued up until her death in October last year and although it is understood that Stuart Gallear became aware that his wife was seeing someone else around six months previously, he did not know who the person was and that it was a man he knew and considered a friend.

On 5 October 2016, the day before the attack, Stuart Gallear learnt the identity of his wife’s lover from Mark Prescott’s stepson, information which infuriated him.  When he confronted his wife, she admitted the affair and that she wanted to separate to allow her to continue her relationship with Mark Prescott.  According to Stuart Gallear they had discussed their relationship and agreed on a separation that day and were able to do so amicably.

The following day on 6 October 2015 however, the realization that his wife wanted to leave him for another man and a man he knew pushed Gallear into making a number of threats to Mark Prescott, according to the prosecution, including text messages and phone calls.  Verbal outbursts that demonstrate anger and aggression but do not in themselves mean a plan for murder.  On returning to his home that afternoon after being in a local pub, Mandy and Stuart Gallear got into another argument where he says she told him she loved Mark more than she loved him.  He then lunged at his wife and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

“I can’t even remember it. Two times that I stabbed her, is it three times? All of a sudden I felt like I was back in the real world. I’m looking at the knife, looking at her, thinking ‘s***’ and backing away…it was so quick, I just got lost in it. It was only when she said what are you doing I still love you, I’ve got to be honest, it triggered something for me to come back into the real world. I didn’t go there intending to hurt her…I made one big, big mistake. I lost it and I’ve got all this to pay for.”

In what will no doubt be labelled as a crime of passion it seems Stuart Gallear exploded in a fit of rage after hearing his wife say the words that she loved her lover more than she loved him.  He stabbed his wife repeatedly in an act which he now says he has little recollection of. This itself is another aspect of this case that his defence team will need to explain.  Mandy Gallear was stabbed three times with considerable force. “One of the stab wounds was 19 cm deep and cut through her sternum”, according to BBC News, actions which show a level of force and possible intent to take her life and not simply harm her.  Mandy Gallear’s questioning of his actions and admission that she still loved him snapped him out of his haze and back into reality where he realised what he had done.  It is in this light that Stuart Gallear is pleading to manslaughter and not murder.

The murder he says was not premeditated; he had no intention of harming his wife that day.  The prosecution has brought in evidence from others who encountered Stuart Gallear that day who testify he made comments that his wife had ruined his life and that he had just found out his she had been having an affair with his friend.

In cases such as this, the jury are not being asked to decide who carried out actions which resulted in the death of another but whether those actions should be classed as manslaughter or murder, which centers on establishing the intent of the defendant. For Stuart Gallear, he found out the information about his wife having an affair with his friend the previous day, and he knew the previous evening that his wife wanted to separate from him and end their marriage, according to his statements to police.

Stuart Gallear therefore had time to contemplate the situation, time to make comments to various people about his feelings, and to allegedly make threats to Mr Prescott himself and tell Mr Prescott’s wife that he will ‘get him’.  This may cause a problem for the defence to convince the jury that this attack was not pre-mediated with no element of forethought in his actions on that day which resulted in the death of his wife.

Traditionally crimes of passion do involve the murder or attempted murder of a partner who has been having an affair and/or the person they have been having an affair with.  Notable cases include the murder-suicide of Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman by his wife Brynn Hartman.  Married for 10 years, Brynn Hartman was struggling with substance misuse and after an argument with her husband where he told her he would leave if she continued using drugs, she waited until he was asleep and shot him three times.

She then went to a friend’s house and confessed to what she had done.  On return to her home with the friend, as they called the police, she went into another room and committed suicide. The argument between the two and the words spoken to her from her husband evoked such rage in Brynn Hartman she went and picked up a gun.  Whether the intention always was to take her own life after the act or on return to the home faced with the reality of what she had done proved to be too much we will never know but, it is a tragedy with ended in the loss of two lives.

While the trial of Stuart Gallear moves forward the defence and prosecution teams will continue to present their arguments to the jury, trying to convince each member that their version of events is the correct one.  It is known that Stuart Gallear did stab his wife multiple times and she died as a result of those injuries, what the jury will need to decide is whether the correct verdict for Mr Gallear should be a guilty verdict of murder with an element of pre-meditation in his actions on that day or manslaughter, removing an intent or fore-planning of killing his wife and accepting an explanation of spontaneous violence due to the conversation between the two at that moment in time.

This case highlights how relationships between two individuals can go so tragically wrong and the terrible consequences which can come from raw emotions of love, jealously, betrayal and anger.  Mandy Gallear has lost her life and her two children have not only lost their mother but now have to watch as their father goes through the courts facing a possible conviction for her murder.  While love can be a wonderful thing, it is a powerful emotion and in some cases this is emotion that can prove deadly.

UPDATE: Stuart Gallear was unanimously found guilty of murder at Manchester Crown Court on 7 April 2017. At his sentencing hearing on 12 April 2017 the judge said “Despite his denial I’m sure he intended to kill her. I accept there was here no premeditation, he didn’t go back home intending to kill her, but I’m unable to find there was any substantial provocation. She believed she was likely to find greater happiness with another as she was entitled, this does not excuse his conduct in fatally stabbing her.” He added that Gallear ‘gave way to self-indulgence weighing on self-pity’ and ‘the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors,’ before sentencing him to life in prison to serve a minimum of 17 years.

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